The Security Risk of Mobile Devices in the Workplace

Mobile devices have a huge range of benefits in the workplace – from increasing the productivity of employees by enabling them to keep working on the move, to allowing improvements in flexibility such as operating from home.

The technology now comes in all shapes and sizes: laptops, netbooks, tablets, smart-phones, pen drives and everything in between. It evolves at a rapid pace and many workplaces are keen to embrace the new technology. However, what many organizations fail to consider is the need to create secure mobile environments, which also maintain a high level of accessibility.

Personal devices

The problems begin with the fact that many employees now use their own mobile devices to enhance their working ability – rather than using simply what the company provides. This has booth benefits and drawbacks. For example, the company saves cash on equipment and the
employees are more productive; but the security risks caused by allowing unknown devices onto a wireless network are certainly increased.

Threats to security include theft of information using a portable device and the leaking of important documents. But even more frightening for organisations is the loss of an individual’s mobile device, whereupon personal and company information is stored simultaneously. It is all to
easy for small mobile technology to be misplaced – and this is regularly a cause for concern in the world of business as the penalties for data loss are high.

The stats

A recent survey by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE) found that two out of every three data breaches is cause by lost portable devices and paper files. While company-issued memory devices might be able to be wiped remotely, personal ones may not. Individuals are also less likely to encrypt data or use effective passwords when using their own technology.

This brings about several interesting questions – do companies insist on providing their own technology despite the high cost and inconvenience? Or do they just take the risk? Basically it depends whether you think your business can afford it. Judging by the $50,000 fine recently dished out to an Idaho hospice for the loss of a single laptop containing information on 441 patients, few organizations can cope with the financial penalties, let alone the implications to your business’ reputation.

So how does a business face the threat to security posed by mobile devices? It may seem somewhat obvious, but one of the easiest solutions is to ensure detailed policies and procedures are in place and all staff are educated about them. If your business does allow personal devices to access to its network, make sure individuals understand the importance of encryption and passwords – however trivial this step may seem.

Author Bio: This article was written by Susie Francis, a content writer for HANDD, the secure file transfer specialists.

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Ehacking Staff
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